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Amgad Muhammad

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What's the point of novels?

All of us would agree that reading for facts and knowledge widens our perspective, but what does reading novels do?
Do we read novels for the sole purpose of entertaining ourselves or does it make us intelligent in some way?
How can one take lessons from a story that was made up and characters that do not exist?

Is reading novels just a waste of time? a sort of video game for those who like to read?


Topics: books

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    May 9 2013: getting experience is risky, because by definition you get into the learning situation with no experience, and thus you are unable to avoid trouble. that's why we need simulated environments to learn, and in fact all developed animals do that. that is why we play. that is why we have formal education. and that is why we have novels too. you can put yourself in a virtual position without actually realizing losses but on the other hand reaping any "real" (material) benefits.

    but of course there are vitamins and there are artificial flavorings. some of these simulated environments give you no meat, but only a feeling that you have eaten something. some of them are actually poisonous or addictive. but just like flavored and colored drinks does not invalidate the general concept of drinking, useless novels should be considered as bad examples, and not the rule.
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      May 9 2013: Krisztián, thank you! thank you for writing your thorough opinion on the matter.
      I totally agree with you, but what would you call a "bad novel" ?
      What would make a novel a "colored drink", poisonous, or addictive?
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        May 9 2013: for example novels (or anything) having the sole purpose to reinforce the current views of the audience, so they feel good about themselves, regardless of the validity of said views. i would call that a flavored drink with artificial sweetener. if i named examples, it would immediately derail the conversation into a flame war between the fans and the haters, so i would rather skip that.
    • May 9 2013: Wow, you just read my mind, and wrote my thoughts in a better way that I could have written! :)

      I was a vigorous reader when I was a child and a teenager. Nothing thought me more about good behavior in general, and gave me better counsels about life, friendships, family and such subjects, than the novels I loved to read. Adults chastising me weren't effective, because they never explained to me why I should do this, or why I shouldn't do that. And I always want to know the reason for something. Good books filled this need for me.
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        May 9 2013: thanks. btw i recently came to that conclusion when i tried to define "game", in the light of some recent video game debates about what can we call a video game, what are the requirements of it. i can't just pass by such a question. i have to find and answer to it, it spins in my head :)

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